Tom Clancy: Bestselling author of The Hunt for Red October dead from undisclosed causes aged 66

Writer was a canny businessman who managed to turn himself into a brand, spawning successful film and video game franchises

Los Angeles

Tom Clancy, the best-selling author of fast-paced military thrillers including The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger, has died at a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. His publishers, the Penguin Group, did not disclose his cause of death.

Clancy, 66, sold some 50 million books over his three-decade writing career. Most famously, he created CIA analyst and later US president, Jack Ryan, who tackled Soviet submarines in Red October, Irish republican paramilitaries in Patriot Games, and a neo-Nazi nuclear plot in The Sum of All Fears.

Clancy’s next novel, Command Authority, will be published in December. In the same month, his most celebrated character will appear again in cinemas in the blockbuster Jack Ryan: Shadow One, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine as the titular super-spy. Ryan has previously been portrayed on screen by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.

Of Clancy’s 28 books, 17 topped the New York Times bestsellers list. His writing also appeared in several videogames, after he co-founded the games company Red Storm Entertainment in 1996. Later bought by Ubisoft, the firm released several popular titles based on Clancy concepts, including Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. The author also became a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and in 2002 was 10th in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, with annual earnings of $47.8m (£29.5m).

Born in Baltimore in April 1947, not far from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Clancy was reportedly fascinated by naval history and engineering as a boy. Any ambitions he had to join the military were thwarted, however, by his near-sightedness. Instead, he became an insurance salesman and poured his lifelong interests into his writing.

While researching his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, Clancy interviewed former submariners who worked at a Maryland nuclear power plant. He submitted the manuscript to the Naval Institute Press, which had never released a novel, but agreed to pay him $5,000 to publish. When submarine officers checked the text, they found so few factual errors that they asked the author to cut around 100 pages of technical details.

Published in 1984, the book sold more than five million copies and was made into a 1990 film starring Baldwin and Sean Connery. Its popularity was boosted after a copy made its way to then-President Ronald Reagan, who described it as “my kind of yarn”. As well as his novels, Clancy co-wrote several non-fiction books about the US military’s activities abroad, such as Into the Storm: On the Ground in Iraq and Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign. The access he was offered by his fans in the services informed many of the plots and details in his fiction, though he insisted that he never revealed any sensitive information about the operations of special forces he met.

Clancy said the key to his success as an author was simple graft. “You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,” he said. “You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. Writing isn’t divinely inspired – it’s hard work.”

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor